Charles Zelenka has lived in his Colorado house for 17 years, throughout which he’s watched deer, bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional moose stroll via his half-acre yard. That’s why, when he awoke round 2 a.m. on Jan. 4 to a loud banging noise exterior his Glenwood Springs home, he figured it was the standard bears making an attempt to break into his bear-proof dumpster.
“That’s where the bumping and noise was coming from,” Zelenka instructed Outdoor Life. He dragged himself away from bed to look via the lavatory window, however couldn’t see something within the darkness exterior. His yellow Lab, Sunny, was curled up on the mattress and didn’t appear perturbed. So Zelenka, hoping the noise would cease quickly, went again to sleep. “Next thing I know, I heard some more thumping. I was like, alright, I have to check this out.”
So Zelenka descended the steps and switched on the out of doors lights, peering out the window of his entrance door.
“I was like, Holy crap, there’s an elk on my front porch! I could see it kicking its front legs. I was like, What the hell happened? I couldn’t figure it out.”
Perhaps the cow had been hit by a automobile and made its method onto his porch to die. Interstate 70, which runs via Glenwood Canyon, lies lower than 200 toes from Zelenka’s yard.
The elk stopped kicking, and Zelenka crossed into the downstairs rest room for a higher look. He might nonetheless see the elk via the window, however this new view was considerably obscured by a grill and a smoker.
“I was just about ready to turn and go out the door, and a mountain lion popped up from underneath this thing,” Zelenka says. “So I grabbed my phone—I’m in my skivvies, I’ve just gotten out of bed—and start recording.”
The video, which Zelenka posted to Facebook the place it has since acquired greater than 23,000 shares and practically 5,000 feedback, reveals a snow-lined cougar with bloody fur simply exterior the window. The elk is mendacity on its aspect, her entrance half collapsed on the porch floorboards together with her hindquarters within the snow and her head and neck contorted awkwardly beneath her chest. The massive cat is watching its again path, probably confused by the sudden flood of sunshine, then hisses when it notices Zelenka filming from the window. It hisses once more, then turns and slowly pads away into the yard, leaving bloody paw prints within the snow earlier than disappearing into the bushes.
Zelenka referred to as the native dispatch, who instructed him to keep protected. After the cat had disappeared into the woods, Zelenka grabbed his air rifle and stepped onto the porch for a fast have a look at the elk. Then he went again to mattress. This time, he had bother falling asleep.
“It just caught me off guard,” Zelenka says of that preliminary encounter. “I see a lot of animals. I have lots of bighorn sheep, elk, deer, bear—they’re all in my yard. You just don’t see that every day. It was all in the timing, too. It was a rush.”
The subsequent morning, Zelenka acquired a higher have a look at the elk and tried to piece collectively what occurred. As greatest as he can inform from the path within the snow, the struggle between the cougar and the elk started on the ridge above his home earlier than the 2 got here tearing into his yard. All the noise within the night time made extra sense when he noticed the tracks, and there was even a small gap kicked in his home. A piece of siding was lacking and there was fur and blood within the hole, and extra hair snagged in a ladder lashed to the wall. The elk had flesh lacking from her inside hindquarter, and the cat had clearly eaten a few bites from her stomach. Zelenka took observe of all of the signal, however tried not to stroll via any of it.
“I didn’t really want to disturb the area too much till the DOW came, because you just never know how law enforcement approaches this thing,” Zelenka says, noting that some Facebook commenters had accused him of taking pictures the elk.
When Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife officer did arrive that morning, the officer wound a cable across the elk, dragged it off Zelenka’s porch, and winched it into his pickup. He hoped to get the meat processed for donation. Before departing, the officer instructed Zelenka he might anticipate to see the lion once more over the following few days, as it might return with plans to feed on the kill.
“I used to hunt but I’m not necessarily a big hunter now. So I just went out there and tried to scent the area with, you know, urine,” Zelenka says with a chortle. “I just want to disperse him and let him know I’m here, but I’m sure he’s still right up there. And that’s what the DOW [officer] said too, he said, ‘He’s living up on the ridge somewhere behind your house—probably looking at us right now—so be careful.”
And Zelenka has been cautious this week. He escorts his canine exterior, bringing a gun and a vivid flashlight at night time. Although he’s by no means seen a mountain lion in his yard earlier than this encounter, Zelenka says he’s discovered two mountain lion kills—each deer—through the years. One had been 100 toes up the hill from his home, and one other 300 toes away. A couple of months in the past, his neighbor’s daughter took her chihuahua, Sasquatch, exterior round midnight.
“Sasquatch disappeared,” says Zelenka, who had instantly texted this week’s video to his neighbor. “Just vanished—gone completely.”
In the times because the encounter, safety cameras have captured footage of the massive cat crossing the deck above his driveway and strolling throughout his entrance porch.
Mountain Lions in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
In Dec 2017 and 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife received reports of a number of units of lion tracks in yard ins Glenwood Springs yards, and consists of experiences of 1 canine that was attacked and lived, and one other that was attacked in killed. A subsequent report indicated a man strolling his canine had seen a lion stalking them behind bushes in a yard. Over the course of 9 days, 5 lions had been trapped within the subdivision in query.
Zelenka lives within the Glenwood Special Management Area, a 1,830-sq.-mile swath of Colorado that requires further mountain lion administration. It consists of cities like Aspen, Carbondale, Eagle, and Vail. According to the state’s Western Slope Lion Management Plan, which was carried out in September 2020, “…near Glenwood Springs, human safety and social tolerance levels is a higher management priority than lion abundance. This is balanced with the overarching goal at the much larger Northwest Regional scale, of maintaining a stable lion population.”
The statewide mountain lion inhabitants is estimated between 3,000 and seven,000 animals, in accordance to an undated page on the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife web site. During the 2020-21 lion seasons, 526 mountain lions had been harvested statewide, for a 20 % success charge amongst 2,672 whole hunters. Fourteen of these massive cats had been taken within the Glenwood Special Management Area.